OVER 3,000 questionnaires are now being independently evaluated ahead of next month’s crucial IW Council vote on the proposed education reforms.
Members at the Full Council meeting on March 19 will decide which of three models for a new schools structure will be taken forward.
To help members decide, an extensive consultation exercise was held. Ten public meetings attended by well over 2,400 people were held Islandwide and 25,000 questionnaires seeking views were distributed to all Island parents, teachers, governors and pre schools. The questionnaire was also available online.
These responses are now being compiled and will be made public on March 10.
Cabinet member for Children and Young People Cllr Alan Wells said “Clearly many people on the Isle of Wight have strong views about education and with over 3000 questionnaires being sent to the independent research firm, it shows how important many Islanders consider the proposals for reform to be.
“In contrast, the consultation we carried out early last year on one option for educational reform attracted just over 500 responses. The results of the questionnaires will be published on the council’s website, www.iwight.com, on 10 March.
“The findings, along with the many other forms of feedback and correspondence received by the council during the consultation process, will provide members with key information ahead of a final decision on which of the three options for the structure of schools will be taken forward on 19 March.”
Cllr Wells said: “I believe this is the most comprehensive and intensive consultation ever undertaken by the council on any subject.
“Myself and the leader are visiting every school that is currently outlined for closure under every option while meetings have also been held with pre-schools and nurseries, staff unions and education interest groups.
“I think the high level of response is due in no small part to the transparency we have applied throughout this process, notably making clear for the first time exactly what the implications of each option could be. The decisions about individual schools will follow the March 19 vote but I can promise we will be open and transparent during that process as well.”
IW Council leader David Pugh, said: “The purpose of the questionnaire and the public meetings was to give Island residents every chance to make their views known. It will now be up to IW Council members to take an informed decision on the way forward.
“The consultation in not a referendum, it was held as an exercise in information gathering and as such it has been extremely effective as the volume of response shows.
“The process has been a robust one. I certainly feel that the public have been given the chance to make their views known. It is up to us to consider the comments as part of the decision making process.
“It is a huge decision for the Island and great responsibility lies with the councillors who must make it. While views will clearly be considered it is ultimately a decision for councillors. They must decide which of the options will achieve our aim of driving up standards of education throughout the Island.”